Giro d'Italia (st. 17)
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team get through stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia without a trouble as Kluge (IAM) holds off sprinters for stage win; Bala still 3rd overall, Andrey Amador within top ten (8th)
After a tense, grueling stage on Tuesday, the Movistar Team and its GC references had their only task in defending Alejandro Valverde's third place overall today. The squad directed by Chente and Jaimerena accomplished that mission, taking care of Alejandro Valverde into the bunch all the way through stage 17, 196km from Molveno to Cassano d'Adda. The early part of the route, with some gentle hills before the last categorized climb, the Passo Sant'Eusebio, saw a three-man break led Daniel Oss (BMC) staying away, with Eugert Zhupa (WIL) and Pavel Brutt (TCS) also in.
Back into the province of Brescia and into the plains, the final 76km did not make things easy for the sprinters' squads, as another trio -with Bak (LTS), Belkov (KAT) and Konovalovas (FDJ)- caught some free air and jeopardized the bunch sprint. It wasn't until the final 3km when it was caught and José Joaquín Rojas, Jasha Sütterlin and Rory Sutherland could take the front to keep all Blues out of trouble. At the end, Roger Kluge (IAM) made an impressive finisseur action to reach the line ahead of the peloton.
Thursday will bring an appetizer of the final showdown in this Giro d'Italia. The profile will be mostly similar to today's, with plains over the 240km course from Muggiò to Pinerolo, yet with a Cat-2 ascent in the finale, the Pramartino, at 15km from the end, plus a short, sharp climb just before the finish.